Wednesday 18 October 2017

Film of the week: Miss Sloane

Cert: 15A; Now showing

Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane in Miss Sloane
Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane in Miss Sloane

Jessica Chastain never disappoints and although she can do ephemeral, ditsy and gentle she also does a nice line in tough, focused dames. Miss Sloane is one of those dudettes and although it divided critics when it opened in a US reeling from the election last November, I found this film tremendously enjoyable.

Director John Madden takes quite a diversion from the Marigold Hotel to head to Washington DC where the film opens in a senate inquiry. American politics is full of quirks that sound barely legal. One of those is lobbying, the tradition of persuading politicians to vote one way or another. Buying their votes directly is illegal but Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) and her lobbying firm are expert at interpreting those rules in the most flexible fashion.

Impeccably groomed, fast talking, existing on a diet of speed and no sleep, Sloane makes no bones about the fact that her desire to win overrides any moral issues around the issues she lobbies for. It is this that seems to have her before the inquiry.

The story goes back in time to Sloane's surprise refusal to lobby for a powerful NRA-style group which wanted to liberalise gun access. Moving to an altogether more principled lobbying group owned by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) she remained adamant she had not changed and true enough she exploited every avenue she could to make her point and win her case.

It's all fast dialogue, archetypes and some genre cliches but in this world principles can show in strange places, and although Sloane shows cracks, there is, refreshingly, no big ole explainer backstory. The ending is a bit silly but it's good fun, trots along very nicely even though it's long and has Jessica Chastain.


Aine O'Connor


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